Eight points enough to nip Evansville
Staked to a baseball-like 2-0 lead with a 1:30 remaining in their battle against McFarland for first place in the Rock Valley North, the Blue Devils couldn’t find a way to close out the win.
Instead, McFarland quarterback Casey Hagerty found T.J. Klement on a wheel route up the sideline. The senior wide receiver did the rest by racing untouched for 56 yards for the only touchdown to hand McFarland an 8-2 victory.
The win gave undefeated and ninth-ranked McFarland (7-0) the undisputed North Division lead at 5-0 in its inaugural Rock Valley season.
“When you get two good defensive teams, you've got to try and find a play that works,” Evansville coach Ron Grovesteen said. “They found one at the end, and we didn’t find one at the end.”
Fifth-ranked Evansville (6-1, 4-1) suffered its first loss of the season after not being able to penetrate a McFarland defense that has only allowed one touchdown in its last five games.
The Blue Devils played without all-conference running back Derek Cashore, who did not dress due to a knee ligament sprain, but they nearly managed to make a second-quarter safety stand up.
Despite winning the field-position battle in the first half, Evansville had two drives end just shy of the end zone. The Blue Devils' opening drive ended at the McFarland 1, while another ended with an end-zone interception.
Evansville finally got on the board with a safety after Eddie Schmoldt tackled Hagerty in the end zone with 11:39 left in the first half.
The lead stood up as Andrew Keister blocked two McFarland field-goal attempts from 40 and 36 yards, the last try coming with 7:07 remaining.
“I am just extremely, extremely pleased with the effort they gave the entire game,” McFarland coach Paul Ackley said of his Spartans.
McFARLAND 8, EVANSVILLE 2
McFarland 0 0 0 8—8
Evansville 0 2 0 0—2